Today a cinema in Edinburgh was the bathetic setting for the launch of the Scottish National Party’s bid for Scottish independence. The SNP desires a yes/no referendum (possibly with an increased devolution alternative) to be held in October 2014, 700 years after Bannockburn.
Although the SNP is the main mover behind Yes Scotland it is nominally cross-party, with support from the Scottish Socialist Party and sundry former Labour MPs, plus guarded Green backing. Messages of support were received from assorted celebrities, although the only one likely to be familiar beyond Scotland is Sir Sean Connery – who will doubtless relinquish his badge of knightly servitude once independence is achieved!
That should probably be if independence is achieved, because the odds are against, with anomalous polls and the three main Westminster parties opposed out of principle or expediency.
Business is dubious – whatever its problems, the UK is at least stable while an independent Scotland may be less so. The SNP emphasizes that Scotland would still use sterling and economic policy would be set by the Bank of England – yet the party has a bias towards high taxation and spending, Scotland relies on the UK public sector (especially military installations) and there is uncertainty about what would happen to North Sea gas and oil.
Endemic political correctness also prevents the SNP from espousing a truly motivational message of Scottishness, typified in recent years by the party’s encouragement of immigration – notwithstanding Scotland’s small population, England’s experiences, or even a high-level SNP visit last year to Quebec, where two bids for independence have been derailed by immigrant votes. Already a substantial minority in Scotland has declared it doesn’t “feel Scottish”, and in a close race this could make a Quebec-style difference. Scots Nats should be wondering whether independence on such terms is really worth the effort.
Derek Turner, editor of The Quarterly Review, is the author of the novel Sea Changes (Radix).